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First 6,000 sections proposed under Auckland's special housing areas policy

Wednesday 9th October 2013

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The first 6,000 sections within Auckland's special housing areas policy, which aims to address the city's chronic housing shortage, have been announced by Housing Minister Nick Smith and Mayor Len Brown.

There are 10 zones across Auckland designated as special housing areas (SHA) in addition to a community housing project in Weymouth for 282 homes.

The biggest tranche of sections is in the Huapai Triangle, in Kumeu, a 65 hectare site earmarked for 2,000 homes. A less dense SHA at Wesley College, Pukekohe, allows for 1,000 homes over 277.7 hectares. The Hobsonville Catalina Precinct and Marine Industry precinct is for 1,200 homes on 28 hectares. Orakei, in Auckland City, is earmarked for 75 homes on 0.8 hectares.

The SHAs were recommended by Auckland Council and provisionally approved by the Cabinet. They will take legal effect once approved by the governor general, expected by the end of the month, after which the council will accept applications for subdivisions to be fast-tracked under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas legislation enacted last month.

Under the fast-track mechanisms, approvals for greenfield developments must be with six months, while for brownfield sites the deadline is three months. Approvals had previously averaged three years and one year respectively. The initial 6,000 sections are part of the Auckland Housing Accord's target of consenting 39,000 new homes over three years.

"Land supply is the most critical issue we must address to improve housing supply and affordability in Auckland," Smith said in a statement.

The SHA rules require a proportion of homes to be in an "affordable" range, which would cover 100 percent of the Weymouth site and smaller proportions in higher income areas. Affordable housing ranges from between $325,000 and $475,000 based on the specifications for the Weymouth SHA.

In June, Smith said the government wanted to trim back the "super profits" investors could reap from land banking in New Zealand's largest city, which was choking the pipeline of new developments.

The best solution was to make "real progress on land regulatory tools through the accord and through special housing legislation that is going to remove some of the monopoly profits that people are able to get from land banking," he said at the time.

Over the past decade, the number of vacant sections in Auckland has plummeted to just 1,400 from 4,000 and at the same time prices have soared, he said.

Quotable Value data released today shows Auckland property values rose at a 13.6 percent annual pace last month.

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